ShowMeMizzou.com continues to look at Missouri’s 2013 season with a review of the Tigers’ receivers.
Following the 2012 season, there’s was a shuffling of the deck with respect to some of the Missouri position coaches, and perhaps no position was more impacted by the changes heading into 2013 than was the receiver position, including the tight ends.
Coach Pinkel made a great hire in bringing in a veteran receivers coach in Pat Washington. And, Missouri’s receivers benefited greatly under Coach Washington’s tutelage.
First-year Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson not only took over coaching Missouri’s tight ends, but he redefined the role of the tight end in Missouri’s offense. In addition, Missouri utilized a lot of four-wide-receiver personnel packages in 2013, and the Tigers rotated receivers at all four of their wide receiver positions, which combined to result in eight wide receivers and three tight ends seeing regular playing time during the season. In addition to Missouri’s three tailbacks, there were ten different receivers, including two tight ends, who each caught at least 1 pass for Missouri in 2013.
Missouri’s top five in the number of receptions were wide receivers, and in 2013, those five wide-receivers accounted for 81% of Missouri’s receptions, 87% of the Tigers’ receiving yards, and 87% of Mizzou’s TD receptions.
Included in those top five were sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (59 receptions, 883 yards, 12 TDs), seniors Marcus Lucas (58 receptions, 692 yards, 3 TDs) and L’Damian Washington (50 receptions, 893 yards, 10 TDs), and juniors Bud Sasser (26 receptions, 361 yards, 1 TD) and Jimmie Hunt (22 receptions, 253 yards, 1 TD). Dorial Green-Beckham also had 1 rushing attempt for 3 yards. Sasser was 1-1-0 for 40 yards and 1 TD passing, the back-breaking double pass that Coach Henson dropped on the Bulldogs at Georgia.
Green-Beckham, Lucas, and Washington each started all 14 games in 2013. Green-Beckham and Washington each turned in numerous big plays, while Lucas, who was usually lined up in the slot, became a little more of a possession receiver, moving the chains, or setting up makeable third downs, although to be sure, all five of Missouri’s top receivers made big plays in 2013. Sasser and Hunt each played in all 14 games. Sasser started 10 games. And, in Missouri’s other 4 games, the Tigers began the game with one of their tight ends on the field, instead of Sasser.
In 2013, Missouri had one of the nation’s best wide-receiver corps. Maybe the best. It was certainly one of the best groups of receivers we’ve seen at Missouri, and certainly Mizzou’s deepest group of wide receivers. One area in which Missouri’s receivers excelled in 2013 was in their run-blocking. Of course, the size advantage that Missouri’s receivers brought to the field was significant, and often talked about.
In my opinion, other than their run-blocking, which was just outstanding, and other than Washington, who had an outstanding season as a receiver, the Missouri receiving corps was very, very good, but because of inconsistency, they fell a little short of being as good as they could have been. A lack of consistency catching the football plagued several of Missouri’s receivers, and at times, and especially against the better secondaries they faced, some of the Missouri receivers struggled to gain separation in their routes. Still, there were plenty of great individual moments and games for Missouri’s receivers. As a unit, they were at times dominant. But, in my opinion, inconsistency kept them from being even better.
Individually, Green-Beckham turned in some spectacular plays and games. At Kentucky, the 6’6” sophomore was dominant in the red zone, as he caught a school-record 4 TD passes. But, he also turned in games in which he had at least 4 dropped passes. Lucas was another one who had his share of success, but also too many dropped balls. That’s some of the disappointing inconsistency to which I refer, and that kept the Missouri receivers from realizing their full potential.
Depth was definitely a strength of this year’s receiving corps, and because of quality depth, the Tigers were able to rely on substitution as a strategic element of their up-tempo, no-huddle offense. In addition to Missouri’s top five receivers, three other wide-receivers saw regular action for the Tigers this season, including senior Jaleel Clark (10 receptions, 88 yards), who played in 13 games, junior Darius White (7 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD), who played in all 14 games, and red-shirt freshman Levi Copelin (3 receptions, 61 yards), who played in all 14 games, and who also returned 1 punt for 10 yards.
And, two other wide receivers saw limited action for Missouri during 2013, including Gavin Otte, who played in 2 games, and Wesley Leftwich, who played in 3 games for the Tigers.
As previously stated, Coach Henson redefined the role of the tight end in Missouri’s offense. Senior Eric Waters (8 receptions, 72 yards, 1 TD) saw the most action at tight end for the Tigers this season, and he played in all 14 games, while making 3 starts. In 2013, Missouri didn’t always have a tight end on the field. At one point, Coach Henson told me that they had a tight end on the field about a third of the time. That was a generalization, as the use of the tight end varied from game to game, and even within games, based on the time and score, as well as what was working.
Red-shirt freshman Sean Culkin (1 reception, 6 yards) played in all 14 games, and he made 1 start at TE for Missouri in 2013.
Sophomore TE Clayton Echard played in 12 games for Missouri, usually as a second TE in a short-yardage formation.
A fourth tight end saw regular playing time for Missouri in 2013, as senior Kyle Peasel played in all 14 games, almost exclusively on special teams. Overall, I'd say that Missouri's receivers, including their tight ends, had a great year. The inconsistencies on the pass receiving end of things were made up for in the way that Missouri's tight ends and receivers contributed with an outstanding job of blocking in the running game.